I Did Not Know What To Say Blog

Virtual Book Tour – Interview with Julie Saeger Nierenberg – Author of “Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad”

Posted by ididnotknowwhattosay on May 2, 2014

Thank you for joining us on our Virtual Book Tour.

Today we welcome Julie Saeger Nierenberg author of Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad. Julie’s interview offers many insights into life, death and losing a parent.

Please feel free to comment or share your own experiences on how your friends and family have assisted you in restoring balance in your life after the loss of a loved one in the comment section below

 

1. What inspired you to write the book Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad?

In his final days, my father, a writer of his own memoirs, encouraged me to write about the dying experience. For a few weeks after he died, I was “being-with” his death in a way that didn’t upset me terribly. And then, it hit me suddenly in an unexpected way. I felt torn and left behind by my father’s loss. The closeness we shared in life had changed, and I was angry and deeply saddened to “get it” that my life was going on without his physical presence. I began to journal every few days about what had taken place so that I might accept and integrate my feelings. This writing process spanned several months, as each time I would return to it, I reread what I’d written so far. This journal was like a mirror to me; in it I saw what had happened and who I was now, after the experience of death changed my life.

2. What did you learn about dying and life by being with your father through his final stages of life?

I learned not to fear death. My father was a courageous teacher, demonstrating candor and compassion for himself and each of his loved ones, as he prepared to die. I learned to follow my father’s lead, to be silent or to talk, to touch or be touched, to listen or to sing to him. In turns he chose to savor sweet pleasures and endure the depth of pain that convinced him of his readiness to die. I learned that life is a treasure we can share fully and lovingly, all our days, including the final ones. This anonymous saying sums it up very well: “There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”

3. How can a family best support a loved one’s final wishes as they go through the final stages of life?

I suggest that we not wait till the final stages to share our final wishes. Now is the best time to pre-plan and to inform all parties — family, close friends and medical or other care providers — of our specific preferences, if we have them. Advance directives can help with this process, and there is no substitute for clear communication among all concerned. Having this knowledge clearly discerned in advance, and being prepared to talk about death as a normal and natural part of life at any point in our lives, will help us all to be-with loss and grief when the time comes. Listen and ask and answer and listen some more. You may learn something that is life-changing while being-with the dying.

4. What suggestions do you have on how to deal with death?

Love (the verb). Allow love to conquer any fears or misgivings. Love is eternal. It does not die when the physical body expires. Love the dying person with all your heart and let love lead you through the process. Love yourself and your circle of survivors, freely giving and taking what you need: time, patience, permission and understanding. A death can inspire new life in those who allow it. Accept that grief is a never-ending and transformative force born of deep love. Let it cleanse and guide you as it flows freely through your life. Embrace change.

5. How did having a “Celebration of Life” rather than a traditional funeral assist you and your family start the healing process after your Dad passed away?

The celebration, as requested by my dad, gave attenders the opportunity to speak and offer other forms of remembrance, such as song and poetry. It set the tone for the rest of our lives without him, an occasion to rejoice in his life even as we mourned his death. The stories shared onDaddy this is it2 this day enlivened our personal memories of him and gave us a greater perspective on the many lives he touched.

6. Our website focuses on providing tips to friends and family members on how to support a loved one through the grieving process. What would be your suggestions on how friends and family can support a loved one that has lost a parent?

Be ready to be-with grieving loved ones. Prepare yourself to accept whatever stage of grief the bereaved might be experiencing, without expectation. Offer unconditional love and truly give it unconditionally. Offer specific things that you can do or bring or activities to share with the grieving. Accept that these things may not be wanted at the time you offer them. Don’t take any of the manifestations of grief that you witness in a personal way. Grieving people may be inconsolable, angry, withdrawn, needy or stubborn. They also may need a break to laugh or dance with joy. They may want to talk about their memories of the parent, all kinds of memories. Inexperience, pride or confusion may inhibit their ability to ask for or to communicate what they need when they need it. Give them patience and time and unlimited understanding. Continue to offer as if support has no expiration date.

7. What do you wish your family or friends had done differently after you lost your father?

I do not wish for anything different from what my friends and family did. Everyone has his/her own emotional and spiritual perspective regarding death and grief, and I accept those differences; we cannot all be perfectly matched at all times, no matter how close we feel.

8. What is one thing you would like readers to take away from your book?

I felt my father’s love every day of my life, and that love hasn’t faltered since his passing. Indeed, he is with me every day, alive in my life as a powerful, joyful and motivating presence.

9. What would you like our readers to know about you?

I am a writer and editor taking a stand for the culture shift of “elderhood” in North America. I stand for the value of elder wisdom, participation and leadership in our society. I stand for the creation and regeneration of practices that nurture and support elder valuation, connection and integration. I stand for my own evolution as an elder and for that of all elders into roles of societal healing, conscious inspiration and holistic community. Sharing our stories is one very effective way that we build community and communicate value. I assist others to tell their stories and to publish them, leaving a legacy for other readers to enjoy.

10. Have you written any other books? Do you plan to write any other books in the future?

I am currently co-writing with a social worker a book series about death, dying and end of life issues. In this series, we offer real-life circumstances, attempt to define and describe them, and discuss ways to proactively deal with them. To provide valuable insights we present multiple perspectives: personal, professional and societal.

I have written, edited and published several other books and am currently in the process of publishing more, including some historical family memoirs dating to the early 1800s. I feel very privileged to work with other writers who publish their own works of fiction and nonfiction. My own writing is primarily focused on memoir, spiritual and personal development with some humor sprinkled in.

About Julie Saeger Nierenberg
Inspired by my father’s living example as an author and activist, I write to contribute to how we prepare, individually and collectively, to live and support the final chapters of life. I write to immerse in the moment and to experience the satisfaction that writing can bring.

As a much younger adult, I meandered through a variety of career emphases in environmental and biomedical sciences before realizing I was called to be an educator. I enjoyed nearly twenty years, first as a Whole Language, Spanish and art teacher and then as an administrator of gifted and talented children. I am the proud parent of two daughters, and the joy and purpose I feel in that role is a guiding light in my daily life.

In 2006, I moved from the home of my roots in Oklahoma to Toronto, Ontario. There, I reinvented my career to flexibly accommodate travel between my old and my new homes. I established a freelance business as a writer, editor, author coach and self-publisher.

Please visit my CreateWrite Enterprises website at http://www.createwriteenterprises.com.

Find me on LinkedIn at http://ca.linkedin.com/in/juliesaegernierenberg/

My book, Daddy this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad, can be purchased from:

CreateSpace e-store:
https://www.createspace.com/4226826

 

 “Daddy, this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad” is featured on our Helpful Books page –  – http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/helpfulbooks.html & Our Virtual Book Tour –
http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/griefbooks-virtualbooktour.html

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

Grief Support Resources: http://www.ididnotknowwhattosay.com/grief_support_groups.html

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